Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Secrets of the Faroes; the Little-Known Faroe Islands, North of Shetland, Are Remote, Yet Utterly Accessible for Overheated Summer Londoners

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Secrets of the Faroes; the Little-Known Faroe Islands, North of Shetland, Are Remote, Yet Utterly Accessible for Overheated Summer Londoners

Article excerpt

Byline: CAROLINE FITTON

VOLCANIC, treeless landscapes, sea-cave concerts, helicopter rides, roast guillemot and puffin stuffed with fruitcake: just how unusual can a long weekend be? Answer: very, if you spend it in the Faroe Islands. A twohour flight on Atlantic Airways from Stansted direct to Vagar (one of the Faroes' 18 islands) provides a refreshingly diverting alternative to a city break or a crowded beach.

If there was a Turner prize awarded for weird and wonderful natural geography, the Faroes would win hands down. Plonked in the mid north Atlantic between Iceland and Shetland, this sculpted, avant-garde artwork of isles has a unique structure moulded by Ice Age glaciers and Atlantic blasting.

To appreciate the extraordinary scenery, there are plenty of outdoor activities, among them walking, cycling, horse riding, birdwatching, fishing and boat trips.

Many of the attractions are sea-based.

From a boat trip to Hestur (horse) island aboard an elegant schooner we downsized to a small rubber craft, bouncing over the waves to get close to awesome, vertical slabs of cliff, crosshatched with a thousand ledges, home to a colony of kittiwakes.

The cry of seabirds rose and echoed all around as stripy-beaked puffins skimmed the water, orange feet paddling like clockwork toys. In the sea grottoes here, occasional concerts are staged, performers and audience brought in by boat.

Later, we stopped at Koltur (colt) island, where farmers Bjorn Pattersen and his wife, Lucca, are the sole inhabitants. A philosopher, too, Bjorn says he never gets lonely: "You can be lonely in your head, in Copenhagen, in London - I could never be lonely here." Shaped like a giant ski jump, Koltur is a selfcontained haven with cliffs, a beach, wooden homestead, tinkling brook, gaggle of geese and the ancient, grass-roofed remains of a previous farm.

Leaving by helicopter - which delivers provisions twice weekly - viewed from above, the green lozenges of land looked like hotels on a Monopoly board; lawned, manicured cliffs, as if customised by Alan Titchmarsh. Such was the languid humour of guide John Esturoy I did not know whether to believe him when he said that sheep are winched up on to impossible scraps of cliff and left for the summer. …

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